Hello, bookish friends!
I hope that everyone is doing well and staying safe these days. I know I am very happy because I took my final exam a week ago, and can now focus on working on my WIP (just hit 50k, woo!!) and reading review books as well as books for fun!
Today on the blog, the lovely Jamie Pacton is visiting! If you did not know already, she is the author of the recently released (as of yesterday) book THE LIFE ANDN MEDIEVAL TIMES OF KIT SWEETLY. I am so excited to read this book very soon, and can’t wait to get started on it! [A big thank you to Jamie for sending over a review copy.] In honor of the book’s release, I thought I would post and interview AND a giveaway for you all! Make sure to read the interview and stick around toward the end to see how you can enter the giveaway!
Sadie: When did you first decide that you want to be a writer and how did that decision affect your life from that point on?
Jamie: I’ve been writing for a long time (I used to write plays and stories for my younger siblings, poems in high school, and I wrote short stories in college), but I really started getting serious about writing when I was a few years post college. I had a degree in English, I’d been working in bookstores and as a nanny, but it was finding a writing group that helped me really dive into the craft side of things. From there, it still was a long road to publication, but I was learning lots about writing, exploring all sorts of ideas, writing for magazines, and slowly, in between raising kids and going to grad school, writing many books. Getting serious about writing changed my life because it gave me a BIG goal to shoot for and a lot to learn. It also introduced me to an amazing community of other writers.
S: How did you go about planning your book? Did you just sit down and write or did you make lots of notes?
J: Once I have an idea, I spend a lot of time thinking, jotting notes, and daydreaming about it. For every idea I have that I want to become a book, I get a blank hardcover sketchbook and put the title on the spine. This makes it feel a bit like a book already. Then, I do lots of preliminary outlines, write a short query, and eventually a synopsis. From the synopsis, I turn it into chapter-by-chapter outline. Then, I start drafting. For the most part, I stick to the outline, but I always have to add in extra chapters as things evolve within the story. My first draft is a fast, messy draft and it ends up being short. From there, I dive into revisions and expand the characters, setting, descriptions, and more.
I used to be a total pantser, and it took me forever to finish a book. This planning/outlining method helps me stay on track, work on multiple projects at the same time, and finish books in a few months.
S: What was your creative process for determining the personality of your characters?
J: This differs with every book. Sometimes, I write a character (like Kit) who’s a lot like myself. Other characters have traits from my friends, my family, or people I dislike. Sometimes I start with a character type--so in my second book with Page Street, LUCKY GIRL,the main character’s ex-boyfriend is a super douchey guy,but I had to make him have some redeemable qualities, so readers will understand why heroine fell for him in the first place. That was a fun challenge.
S: Can you tell the readers a little bit about your book in 100 words or less?
J: THE LIFE AND (MEDIEVAL) TIMES OF KIT SWEETLY is about 17-year-old Kit, a serving wench at the Castle, a medieval-themed restaurant. Kit desperately wants to be a knight like her older brother Chris, but only cisdudes can be knights according to company policy. One shift, Kit rides out in Chris’ place. Her triumph—and the moment she reveals “I AM NO MAN!”— is caught on video, and Kit goes viral. She uses her newfound fame to launch a campaign to change things at the Castle. She’s joined by a group of friends—fierce folks across the gender spectrum— and they band together to over throw the medieval notion that only cis guys can be knights. There’s also a sweet friends-to-lovers story between Kit and her bff Jett; and, a whole lot of economic ups and downs as Kit navigates the financial instability her family faces.
S: Which moment during the writing process really affected you? Did you have that “ah-ha” moment or a “kill your darlings” moment?
J: I do have both “ah-ha” moments and “kill your darlings” moments in all my books. I love when things come together and I realize what I need to do to really move a story forward. Conversely, when I have to cut a scene I love, and there were several of those in KIT, it’s always a bit gut wrenching (even though it’s almost always the best choice for the story). I cried a lot when writing certain parts of LUCKY GIRL, and those moments deeply affected me in my non-writing life.
S: How long did it take you to query your book? From there, how long would you say the process was from querying to holding a book in your hands?
KIT actually was only queried for about a month before I entered it in PitMad on Twitter in 2018. I got a lot of agent interest from that contest, which resulted in multiple agent offers. I signed with my agent, the wonderful Kate Testerman in July, and then KIT went on sub in the early fall 2018. I had a book deal by January 2019, and I was working on edits through all of Spring/Summer 2019. ARCs came out in the fall of 2019, and then KIT will publish in May 2020. So, overall, it’s been a very speedy process.
S: If you could go back in time and tell yourself something when you first started writing, what would it be?
Don’t give up. Writing and publishing can be a long, hard slog and I think it helps for new/young writers to go in knowing that. (I (and my fragile heart) had no idea when I started. Sighhhh). Persistence and a certain amount of stubborn goddammit-I-won’t-give-up will help gird you for all the rejections and vicissitudes of the process. We hear so much about young writers getting six figure deals for their first books, but those are always the exceptional, lucky cases. Publishing is about timing, luck, and many other factors outside your control. Writing is about the joy of finding and telling a story. As much as you can, guard that joy.
I’d also say try to find a community and do everything you can to lift them up. Give more than you take and nurture relationships with other writers. Through conferences and Pitch Wars, I’ve made some dear friends who read my work (and for whom I CP for in turn). We also cheer each other on, talk throughout the day, and are generally just a tremendous support system. They’ve truly been there for me through *so* much that would’ve crushed me if I’d been going it alone.
And for more general advice to my younger self: listen to yourself and your own desires. Find people who understand you. Don’t be afraid to take risks (in fact, anytime you find yourself up against something that scares you, figure out why that is). Love well and fiercely. Also, if you want to be an author, get a day job, so you have a backup plan and insurance.
S: Did any pieces of literature inspire your book?
J: THE LIFE AND (MEDEIVAL) TIMES OF KIT SWEETLY was not directly inspired by any piece of literature, but I do love that it’s comped to MOXIE. I read that book after KIT had sold, but it’s such an inspirational, badass, feminst book. I know Kit herself would adore it.
Beyond that, there are lots of Lord of the Rings jokes and Chaucer references in KIT, so those books were influential to the story for sure.
S: List three words that describe you as an author.
J: Funny, feminist, fearless.
S: Did you make any kind of playlist featuring songs that inspired you? I know I did when I was writing THE BONDED. It really helped me to get the feel of the world I had created when I imagined these songs as being played in my non-existent movie’s soundtrack. :)
J: I absolutely make playlists for every book. For KIT, I listened to a lot of fast, upbeat, and/or fierce songs. So, lots of Santigold (I always think of “Disparate Youth” when I think of KIT because I listened to that song about a zillion times while writing), some Yeah Yeah Yeahs, MIA, Milky Chance, and similar songs.
S: Where do you find your support system as a writer?
J: I’m so lucky to have many wonderful support systems. I have a super supportive partner who is great about making time in our busy parenting/work lives so I can write. I also have a ton of great writer friends who I’ve met through things like conferences and Pitch Wars. And, I have a supportive group of non-writer friends who’ve gotten me through all the ups and downs of life.
S: Lastly, a fun question: which Disney hero and Disney villain are your favorites?
J: No hesitation here:
Merida from Brave for a heroine. She’s got BIG Kit Sweetly energy.
Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty for a villain. (Love her fierceness and that she’s literally a dragon of a woman).
Oh my goodness, you guys. Are you not SO excited to read this book?? I know I am. I was hooked from Jamie mentioning Kit’s “I AM NO MAN” moment, because let’s be real - y’all already know how utterly obsessed I am with Lord of the Rings. I’m so ready for Kit to be the modern Eowyn that we didn’t know we needed.
Alrighty, as promised, here is a giveaway hosted by myself and sponsored by Jamie Pacton! You can enter this giveaway on my Instagram by clicking the link HERE, or you can do a manual search for my username, @/hogwartsgrad_7. Look for the KIT photo! :)